Hypersexual Disorder video

04.06.2020

Compulsive sexual behavior is also known as sex addiction or hypersexuality. It has its own diagnostic criteria and treatment protocols. In this space we detail everything about it.

Compulsive sexual behavior is referred to when a person excessively possesses recurring sexual fantasies and anxiety about sex-related behaviors. This results in an impulsive state that is difficult for the patient to stop.

Although there is reluctance on the part of some mental health professionals to accept the disorder, most include it as just another addiction. It receives, among other names, those of hypersexuality, sex addiction or sex addiction.

It is not known for sure how many people in the world suffer from compulsive sexual behavior. Some vague estimates made in developed countries contemplate that up to 5% of the general population suffers from it.

The problem with measuring and quantifying this disorder is that the data is collected from subjective information. In other words, there is no laboratory test or diagnostic imaging to confirm the presence of this problem.

Diagnostic criteria for hypersexuality

A series of criteria have been established to guide the diagnosis and establish the presence of compulsive sexual behavior. In the first instance, the patient must be over 18 years of age.

Second, the symptoms must be present for at least 6 months, configured by the recurrence of intense sexual fantasies and excessive sexual desire. This would imply that the person spends much of his daily time wrapped in these fantasies, in addition to planning and executing them.

Now, it is not about any sexual fantasy someone might have. The criterion of addiction implies that this person stops attending to other vital matters by dedicating hours and hours to sexual conduct. Social, family relationships are lost, and work is jeopardized by hypersexuality.

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Another of the diagnostic criteria is that the behavior is not motivated by the consumption of any drug or drug that explains the fantasies. In addition, attempts and failures by the person to control that impulse may be recorded, without success.

Ultimately, the diagnosis will be established by a mental health professional. It is not just about fitting into the criteria, but an evaluation with scientific rigor must be made to determine the degree of severity.

Possible causes of compulsive sexual behavior

The etiology of compulsive sexual behavior is unclear. Everything points to the disorder settling in the brain and its neurotransmitters. A change in the amount of these substances or an alteration in the conduction pathways could be behind hypersexuality.

The first hypothesis postulates that there is an imbalance between dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine in the brain. All three substances powerfully regulate mood at all times, and minimal changes at this level affect anxiety.

Another theory is that the brain's reward circuits are stimulated with sexual fantasies to an extreme extent. The daily reinforcement of this satisfaction would be channeled in the same way that the rest of the addictions develop, until generating tolerance - each time more stimulus is needed to achieve the same effect.

Among the secondary causes we have diseases that alter brain architecture. Epileptic patients can suffer from compulsive sexual behavior, as well as patients with vascular dementia or Parkinson's disease.

Treatments

The approach to this disorder is not easy, and involves a combination of drugs and psychotherapy. Mental health professionals are responsible for guiding action protocols.

Depending on the specific case, you may choose cognitive behavioral therapies or psychodynamic forms. An attempt is made to equip the person with tools to handle recurring fantasies and not neglect other aspects of their daily life.

Under the cognitive-behavioral form, emphasis is placed on limiting access to sexual content and developing strategies to avoid risky situations. It is helpful to attend support groups with others who suffer from the same thing.

Regarding the pharmacology for compulsive sexual behavior, the battery of therapeutic options is sustained by antidepressants and two other medications:

Antiandrogens: For men, drugs are prescribed that block the action of androgens, which are natural male sex hormones.

Naltrexone: This substance is used, above all, in the addiction to alcohol and morphines. However, due to its ability to act on reward circuits, it is also an adjuvant in other addictions.

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